Following on from yesterday’s momentous announcements from UK Government and RCUK on opening up access to research outputs funded by the British tax payer, John Wiley & Sons Inc. have announced the Geoscience Data Journal in partnership with the Royal Meteorological Society, the Met Office and NERC.

I first heard about this exciting new initiative via a submitted abstract from the EGU conference this summer. There need to be incentives for scientists to do more than just deposit data in repositories and data papers are a way to document their collection and processing and to acquire citations that indicate to the bean counters that scientists are making worthwhile contributions; having impact in the common parlance.

So I should be happy, right? Nope, not one bit!

Recall that RCUK and UK Government have mandated that no more restrictions than those covered by the Creative Commons By Attribution(CC BY) licence may be imposed on tax-payer funded research published in the scientific literature. CC BY is also the industry standard amongst scientists being compatible with the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) definition of open access. Guess what licence Wiley have chosen for the Geoscience Data Journal? CC BY-NC, the non-commercial derivative of CC BY. And this is where words start to fail me…

NERC is a major supporter of the Geoscience Data Journal. It is also part of RCUK and so bound by the recent announcements on open access. UK scientists in receipt of NERC funds will no longer be allowed to publish outputs from that research in the very journal NERC is supporting and was involved in setting up. This is staggeringly short-sighted of NERC, the editorial board and Wiley. It is not as if RCUK’s decision has come out of the blue; a draft has been available for many months for consultation (I even blogged about it a while ago).

Quite why Wiley want to retain commercial rights to papers published in the journal is beyond me. They are obviously not satisfied with pocketing the £1000 ($1500) they will charge authors to publish papers in the journal. This should have been a PR win for Wiley and a win for the whole geosciences community. Instead it paints a picture of a publisher out of touch and out of step with the open access landscape within which it is operating.

I emailed Wiley’s Science Press Room and Rob Allan, the journal’s editor, making these points and requesting that the licence be reconsidered. If you want to do the same, email Sciencenewsroom@Wiley.com FOA of Ben Norman and Rob Allan (rob.allan AT metoffice.gov.uk). My email is appended below. I do hope that they listen…

Dear Ben, Rob,

I was alerted via Twitter to the press release from Wiley regarding the
new Geoscience Data Journal. I was excited to learn of the new journal
from an EGU abstract earlier in the year and have been looking forward
to further announcements. What should be a positive addition to the open
access landscape for the geoscience community now comes across as badly
out-dated and suggests that Wiley and the people and organisations
related to this announcement (NERC, Royal Meteorological Society etc)
are way behind the times when it comes to open access.

Why? The Geoscience Data Journal is licensed under a CC BY-NC licence.
Firstly this is not a true open access licence according to the Budapest
Open Access Initiative (BOAI) nor is it compatible with the new policy
on open access announced by Research Councils UK (of which NERC is a
part) yesterday. The BOAI has adopted CC BY as the level of restriction
that should be placed on open access research "publications". This
standard has been upheld by RCUK and the UK Government as the standard
to which it will hold recipients of its research funds. It is the height
of irony that, as it stands, no one in receipt of NERC funding would be
able to publish those funded outputs in this new journal, which NERC has
been instrumental in setting up. Similar restrictions related to
publishing EU-funded work/data are being discussed ahead of the next
major funding programme.

Springer, one of your major rivals, has adopted CC BY as the licence for
all it's open access journals. Elsevier has been publicly lambasted by
the open access movement for it's adoption of non-BOAI-compliant "open"
licences, which is but one reason that so many academics have pledged to
boycott that publisher.

By adopting the CC BY-NC licence for this journal you are severely
restricting the potential pool of authors, undermining the commonly-held
standard of CC BY for open access publishing, and going against the
ground swell of recent announcements from the UK Government and other
researcher funding agencies.

I do hope that Wiley will take another look at the licence under which
submissions to Geoscience Data Journal, and all it's open access
offerings, are made available with a view to immediately adopting CC BY
instead.

I wish you well with this exciting new initiative, but unless the
licence is reconsidered, I and many other scientists will be unable,
morally or otherwise, to submit our data to the new journal.

Yours,

Dr. Gavin Simpson

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By Gavin Simpson

17 July 2012

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